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iPhone 3.0 Brings Tethering to 20+ Carriers…Except AT&T

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iPhone Supports Tethering

As someone who has played with the betas of the iPhone 3.0 OS, I was excited to see the availability of tethering that would allow me to share the Internet connection between my iPhone and my Mac. With 3.0 around the corner, the feature is coming, but not in the United States.

Wired or Wireless?

Tethering works via Bluetooth for wireless connectivity or via your dock connector and USB cable (which also conveniently charges your iPhone at the same time). Once you pair your devices and turn the feature on, there’s no more setup. Plus, you can still send and receive data and make phone calls on your device while it is tethered! Tethering is not a feature specific to the new iPhone 3G S and will run on both Macs and PCs.

Extra Fees

Apple (s aapl) is working with different carriers independently to work out plans for tethering options. At the moment, Apple has announced over 20 carriers that will support tethering, including bharti, Telefonica, Tim, Hutchinson Telecom, ‘yes’ Optus, Orange, TeliaSonera, true move, maxis, Rogers, SFR, O2, SingTel, T-Mobile, Turkcell, Glove, Vodafone, VimpelCom, Luxgsm, Chunghwa Telecom, Telkomsel and Telenor. Most carriers will be announcing specific pricing for this feature that is unique to them. Across the pond, O2 in the UK is offering a package based on the amount of data used with options at 3GB for 14.68 pounds ($23.45) per month and 10GB for 29.36 pounds per month.

No Love for the U.S.?

AT&T (s att), mysteriously absent from the aforementioned list, is not allowing tethering on its 3G network in the United States. While tethering disappeared from recent betas, the underground community brought support back through jailbreaking. It’s reasonable to assume that, while AT&T has not announced pricing or plans for tethering, it will still be possible to tether in the United States either via jailbreaking or via a future deal announced by Apple and AT&T.

40 Responses to “iPhone 3.0 Brings Tethering to 20+ Carriers…Except AT&T”

  1. Frank

    At&T has for the last time hooked me into thinking that they give a shit. They are a company that relies on excuses. From the moment they took over Airtouch Cellular they had an excuse for everything from bad coverage to excessive billing.

    It is a sad reminder that they would hold off tethering capabilities in the US for no other reason than a justification of charging more than other carriers for the same product.

  2. geneinla

    There are “hacks” that enable this (not so) hidden feature with iPhone 3.0. I have my iPhone peers already using it. If they use it for emergencies – out in the desert to access email, wiki rattle snake bite they just had. Probably less then 3G traffic per month – will ATT find out that these data usage were tethered – if so how..??

    I suspect that the flags go up when there are excessive data usage.

  3. Kris Thom White

    I’m not making excuses for AT&T, but I think the issue basically is that ATT is worried that everyone will start using tons of data and bring down their network. The other companies that currently allow tethering also don’t do unlimited data. Rogers for example, has plans from 1G to 6G of data, but no unlimited.

    AT&T is “unlimited” data in the states, but that’s tempered by the fact that you’re not using your iphone to download data 24 hours a day. It’s just like your POTS telephone in the old days – in theory it was unlimited, make as many calls as you wanted, but realistically maybe you made a few phone calls a day, so you weren’t on it 24 hours a day. (When dial-up internet came along and people really WERE on it 24 hours a day, they had major problems if anyone remembers that long ago.)

    SO … AT&T knows you’re not really using your iPhone for data all that much. If you check your usage, you’re probably not any greater than 1 Gig/month for the average person. But let’s say someone turns on tethering, and ditches their home DSL line.. just hooks up their computer to their cell phone. So now you really are using the cell network constantly for data access. And then everyone does that. Why pay for a home DSL line at all if you’re a single person? Just keep it attached to your cell phone, it’s “unlimited”, right? Well, then we have the same issue as the dial-up days.

    AT&T’s in a bind. If they go back and say “no, it’s not really unlimited”, they’re in violation of the agreement they sold you. They can’t really separate out tethering traffic from regular iphone traffic, it looks the same to the data network (unless Apple agrees to a software upgrade that does distinguish the two.) So they shut it off until their lawyers and their engineers can figure out what the hell to do. It sucks, but this is what’s going on behind the scenes, I guarantee you.

  4. I’ve been on At&t for around 2 years and my dad’s the one that has the iPhone, but I’m using it more than he does. It’s the phone that does almost ANYTHING, has apps as stupid as iBeer, iText, has games like Tap Tap Revenge and Line Rider iRide, yet Apple and At&t won’t bless us with internet tethering? Apple, you need to realize that the only reason iPhone isn’t down the drain right now is because At&t customers bought it, thinking it was God or something, and now they’re stuck with a device they hate with 1+ years remaining on their contract. If Verizon (which I WILL be switching to, as soon as my contract is up in 2010), T-Mobile, or Sprint somehow released the long-time rumored ‘iPhone killer’, they’d better expect big money, because I’m sure most, maybe all of At&t’s trapped iPhone customers waiting at their stores in about a year.

  5. to all verizon, sprint, t-mobile, etc. executives… If you get apple to do business with you… $$$$….

    At+t I assure you that you will lose MOST IF NOT ALL Apple-Iphone customers.

  6. I still have a first generation iPhone and have no intention of upgrading to the newer, faster versions unless they allow for tethering. In my opinion, the first generation iPhone is more than adequate for mobile web surfing, and paying more than $20 per month to get a 3G or 3G S is not worth it unless I can put that extra speed to good use with my laptop. AT&T can’t help what they do. Scorpions are scorpions. It’s in their nature to sting. It’s Apple I blame here. They need to tear up this ridiculous, exclusive U.S. contract with AT&T. It’s holding the development of the iPhone back.

    • Christopher Hastings

      Except that AT&T is tearing down the towers that operate the EDGE network, forcing everyone to go to 3g. Which would mean that the 2g will soon not be as ‘adequate.’ Good news is – they are building more 3g towers.

    • Mike, what you have to realize though is that Apple is getting mega bucks off of the exclusive that they won’t get with the iPhone being available on any network. I hate it just as much as you that I cannot have a great device that uses its full and current (on Friday) functionality. This is how capitalism works and the AT&T probably just isn’t ready for the overload on it’s already strained network.

      If Apple knew what was good for it as far as customer service goes and reputation they’d get some balls and revise the contract with AT&T to bind them to increasing the network on an expedited timetable and immediate availability for customers to use the iPhone with the full functionality it’s capable of.

      I’m on Verizon. I’ve got a 20% discount via my alma mater and customer service is fabulous. The iPhone is calling my name but as long as AT&T doesn’t offer tethering, there’s no financial incentive for me to pay for a more expensive basic contract with AT&Crap ($8 more/month) and the data plan. That’s a whopping $912 more than what I currently pay for a 2 year contract! I need it to cover my internet at home it make it worth it. I’d rather get a new MacBook every 2 years for that type of savings.

  7. It seems that everyone has the same thoughts I do. AT&T had plenty of time to get tethering available for the iPhone along with MMS. I mean, they must have been told about all this at least 6 months ago. I hate having the phone knowing I dont have all the features. And i think that tethering should be unlimited with the charges we have now, we already pay a lot for data. I guess i would be ok with a $10 raise for unlimited tethering but there is no way i would pay for it for just 3g or so a month. I guess the only solution to having an iPhone with all its goodies will be to move out of the country and escape at&t. Lame

  8. What pisses me off is I can Tether a windows mobile device with AT&T all day… I have been for years why would they not allow the IPHONE is bugging me bad. I even called today and complained not like it did any good. However, I asked them why will you let me tether my windows mobile and not the new IPHONE. 1st response was Apple did not support it. After reading them the new features of the phone I was placed on hold then told it would be available at a later date but no ETA.

  9. I am so sick of the crap that we all seem to be willing to put up with from both at&t AND Apple. Tethering is just one example, there are many more. Plugging a Windows Mobile device into a laptop and using it as a “modem” is SO EASY, and free … even ON the at&t network! Personally I’m thinking that a switch away from at&t AND iPhone is the answer. Very dissapointing, I LOVE the device, but I continually find that the restrictions placed on iPhone in the US by both of these companies for me mean it’s not a viable business tool.

  10. Russel

    That’s just silly, right now I have a Motorola Razor V3xx from AT&T, I can connect it to my laptop to access the internet. AT&T charges me $15/mo extra for unlimited data access. I assume that when they allow tethering on the iPhone the fee will be much higher. Which doesn’t make sense because they’re already forcing you to pay an additional $30/mo for unlimited data on the iPhone.

    • You might want to read the terms & conditions of your plan. The $15 is for unlimited data access ONLY on your phone. The T&C specifically states that it does not include tethering. AT&T can charge you as if you are on a much more expensive LaptopConnect plan if it “catches” you tethering.

  11. I agree with David, AT&T is Windows of the phone world. Expensive, horrible customer service (every person i come who has had AT&T complains about it), and they don’t get the best coverage, despite what they may claim.

    If the iPhone goes with another service provider, that will be a happy day and that new service provider will have a new customer, plus others :3

    AT&T, if you want to try to save face, allowing tethering or providing at a reasonable price may help.

  12. David Hardgrave

    Yet another disappointment from AT&T.

    AT&T are you listening? As soon as the iphone appears with someone else in the US, LOTS of US are jumping ship.

  13. Physh

    I just bought a palm pre. ATT is not the only carrier in the US refusing to allow tethering. I hate the blackberry, so ILm going to give my phone back and go back to my old treo 755p. At least it allowed me to tether with ebough bandwidth to +”+.

  14. Brian

    Until other phone/carrier combinations in the US provide the same type of functions and cult following, ATT will abuse its monopoly by limiting our use of the network in order to prevent the upgrading that is so badly needed on its network. However, at the point that another phone/provider allows this, ATT will have lost its edge in the smart phone business and will feel the pain of its slow improvement model. I (for myself and for the ATT business) hope that they recognize this folly before it is too late.

  15. James

    Really want to make your voice heard? Write to our buddy Randall and let him know what you think.

    Randall Stephenson, AT&T CEO
    [email protected] (direct)
    [email protected]
    phone: 210-351-5401 (direct to his secretary)
    fax 210-351-3553
    alternate phone: 210-821-4105 (headquarters, press 3, ask for Mr. Stephenson’s office)
    175 E. Houston
    San Antonio, TX 78205

  16. Chris Judkins

    Judging from all these articles, it would seem as if the U.S. has a pretty primitive cellular network. I’m glad that Apple still makes it possible for the iPhone to leverage the capabilities that many international carriers offer.

  17. Marto


    You will only be able to tether your iPhone to your specific carrier ie if you are in the UK (like I am) you would use and o2 plan. If you are in the US you cannot tether yet as AT+T do no support it (officially). AT+T are only the SOLE iPhone carrier in teh US not the world.The other netowrks may allow you to use the service if you come to Europe but tbh I doubt AT+T would allow agreements with other carriers when abroad.
    Just my two cents/pennies.


  18. Michael

    Very disappointed that tethering will not be a part of this release. Getting impatient with AT&T…might make the switch when Apple opens up to more wireless carriers.

  19. andrew

    That is crap! I love the iphone and I tout its features and coolness but if it does not allow teathering soon then I am going to throw it in the garbage!

  20. We will be able to tether once AT&T allows it. Expect it to be a big charge…your laptop gobbles up more bandwidth than your iPhone, and I suspect that the charge for tethering with rival that of a USB stick modem…around $60. I am very disappointed by this…

  21. help me out here, i’m kind of slow. tethering is available outside the US because ATT, the sole carrier for iPhone, is backwards. the list of companies mentioned in the article are all outside the US and gladly offer this service for a charge. those of us though in the US will have to wait until ATT “allows” us this feature? am i understanding this correctly, or will other networks allow us to pay them to tether as a feature of the new iPhone OS (not the ATT contract)?

    • Taeo Cullen

      Hate to break it to all you poor US citizens but Australia has 5 iPhone Apple authorized phone carriers Optus(Singtel), Telstra(Government Carrier), Vodaphone, 3ThreeNetwork and VirginMobile

      Apple was in exclusive talks with 1 carrier before iphone 3g launch but was forced to consider other carriers after the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)gov body responsible for company policing informed them it is illegal under anticompetitive laws to force consumers to only one carrier although carriers are aloud to lock the phones to their networks they must allow customers to be able to unlock the phones at a cost or 6months from activation at no cost

      Use your power to convince your gov to make them let you choose your carrier its wrong!